Indigenous Women Leaders & over 200 Groups Urge the Army Corps to Stop the Line 5 Pipeline Expansion
USA, April 27, 2022 — Today, Indigenous women leaders, joined by over 200 organizations, representing millions nationwide, submitted a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers urging the department to deny necessary permits for the expansion of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline, and to conduct a federal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the entire pipeline within the Army Corps of Engineers’ jurisdiction.
Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline was originally built in 1953, and continues to operate nearly 20 years past its engineered lifespan, transporting 22 million gallons of crude oil each day through northern Wisconsin, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and under the Straits of Mackinac. Currently, Enbridge is proposing to expand the Line 5 pipeline, despite the strong opposition of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and other Tribes.
Enbridge proposes to route Line 5 through hundreds of waterways that flow into the Bad River Reservation, their extensive fisheries, and the navigable waters of Lake Superior. The letter sent today delivers key information detailing the impacts the Line 5 tar sands pipeline expansion project would have in the region, and clarifies how it directly undermines Indigenous rights and perpetuates the climate crisis:
“We call on you to reject permits for the expansion of Line 5. This plan places massive risk squarely upon the Bad River Tribe and the Red Cliff Tribe against their will. Furthermore, we consider the pipeline construction an act of cultural genocide. Damage to the land and water destroys food and cultural lifeways that are core to our identity and survival. The pipeline would cut through more than 900 waterways upstream of the Bad River Reservation. The U.S. EPA determined that the plan ‘may result in substantial and unacceptable adverse impacts’ to the Kakagon and Bad River slough complex. This is unacceptable.”
The letter also brings attention to the ongoing investigations and environmental issues with Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota, and details Enbridge’s pattern of misrepresenting risks, violating permits, and covering up environmental damage. While constructing the Line 3 pipeline, Enbridge caused at least 28 frac-outs, polluting surface water and releasing undisclosed amounts of drilling fluid into groundwater, amongst other permit violations.
The letter concludes by bringing attention to the global repercussions of the Line 5 pipeline, noting that increased fossil fuel production will not support President Biden’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, nor align with the latest United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report which calls for urgent emissions reductions as quickly as possible.
The letter comes from Indigenous women who are advocating to stop Line 5, and is endorsed by local and national groups representing Indigenous groups, environmental organizations, health professionals, faith groups, and more. Please see quotes from the original signatories of the letter below:
Jannan J. Cornstalk, Citizen of Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and Director of the Water is Life Festival: “There needs to be a shift, to ensure that Tribes and Indigenous communities are part of the process not after the fact but from the very beginning. That’s consultation. Our very lifeways and cultures hang in the balance as pipelines like Line 5 get rammed through our territories and water. These are our lifeways– when that water is healthy enough that rice is growing– that not only benefits our communities, but that benefits everybody up and down stream. The Army Corps and Biden Administration must put people over profits. Allowing Line 5 to proceed is cultural genocide. The disturbances go deeper than you are hearing. That water is our relative, and we will do whatever it takes to protect our water, our sacred relative.”
Aurora Conley, Bad River Ojibwe, Anishinaabe Environmental Protection Alliance:
“As a Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe member, I am calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to reject the permits for the expansion of Line 5 in northern Wisconsin. The construction of this pipeline will bring massive risk and destruction. We do not want to see irreversible damage to our land, water, and wild rice. We do not want our lifeways destroyed. The United States Environmental Protection Agency, stated in their own letter that this plan “may result in substantial and unacceptable adverse impacts” to the Kakagon and Bad River sloughs complex. The Ojibwe people are here in Bad River because of the wild rice. This pipeline would cut through more than 900 waterways of the Bad River Reservation. This is unacceptable. We will not stand for this. We are saying "No" to the expansion of Line 5.”
Jaime Arsenault, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, White Earth Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe: “When it comes to extractive industry, the Army Corps has historically chosen not to use every tool at their disposal to ensure meaningful consultation with Tribal Nations occurs and to listen when Tribes say ‘no’. We saw a multitude of preventable environmental tragedies occur in Minnesota with the destruction brought by Line 3. As a result – wild rice, watersheds, traditional life ways and the wellbeing of Indigenous communities are still under constant threat. And so, what will the Army Corps do about that? Right now, the Army Corps has the opportunity to protect Waterways, rice and lands in the destructive pathway of the Line 5 pipeline proposed by Enbridge. Honor the treaties, deny the 404 permits and ensure a federal EIS is conducted.”
Rene Ann Goodrich, Bad River Tribal Elder, Native Lives Matter Coalition and Wisconsin Department of Justice MMIW Task Force Member: “Grandmother, mother, auntie, relative to the peoples here in Wisconsin, Minnesota and along the great lakes. I represent Indigenous grassroots community-led work within these territories, bringing awareness and advocacy leading to action for our MMIW,R families. I am a family advocate. I am greatly concerned about how the Line 5 pipeline, all pipelines, and the fossil fuel industry contributes to missing and murdered Indigenous women and relatives ongoing epidemic. We saw what happened at Line 3. Even with preventative measures from Enbridge to reduce violence, there were still documented instances of trafficking and we still see an increase in solicitation and violence. Pipeline projects that bring an influx of hundreds to thousands of temporary workers – they bring this violence into our communities. This is totally unacceptable. How will Line 5 be any different.The Army Corps of Engineers can help us protect our indigenous women, girls, two spirit relatives and people by denying the permits and making sure Line 5 never reaches the ground.”
Carrie Chesnik, Oneida Nation, Wisconsin, Executive Assistant at R.I.S.E. Coalition: “We have an opportunity here to cease the Line 5 pipeline, together. We all have the responsibility and agency to act in a good way, to care for the land and waters. What our communities have known for a long time is that the water is hurting, Mother Earth is hurting, and pretty soon we won't have clean water for our kids, for future generations. As a Haudenosunee woman, an auntie, daughter, and sister, I have an inherent responsibility to the water and our children. We are in a moment where we must stop our global dependence on fossil fuels– this is too critical, too crucial, we need everyone to stop this. Every single one of us has agency and a responsibility to take action, honor the treaties, and protect Mother Earth. It is the time to be brave and courageous.”
Gwendolyn Topping, Associate Judge, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa: "I feel that this is important as a mother, a sister and a community member. I have walked for the water and I have spoken for our stolen relatives. I have gathered rice, berries and medicines. Line 5 will only cause harm to the natural life that our people has passed on traditionally."
Gaagigeyaashiik - Dawn Goodwin, Gaawaabaabiganigaag (White Earth-Ojibwe), Co-founder of R.I.S.E. Coalition, Representative of Indigenous Environmental Network: “As a member of the Wolf Clan I have an inherent responsibility to protect the environment and the people. The United States Army Corps should be on my team, we should be working together. The government has failed to protect the water— something is wrong. The process is broken and here we are again speaking against Line 5, after the fight to stop Line 3, where we followed the process, 68,000 people stood against Line 3. Everything terrible that has happened, we predicted would. We say ‘No, do not go through these lands, no!,’ and still this continues. Our treaties are being ignored and yet, treaties are the SUPREME LAW of the land. It is time to honor the treaties as the supreme law of the land. We have been through this entire process and realize it was never meant to work for the protection of our 1855 Treaty lands and water. What can the Army Corps do to help protect these lands? We are the women calling upon you to rise to protect all that is sacred.”
Nookomis Debra Topping, Nagachiwanong (Fond du lac), Co-founder of R.I.S.E. Coalition: “We have been through this whole process. We've attended these public comment periods, we’ve demonstrated, we've marched, we've stopped traffic, we've put ourselves on the line to stop this, because what we said was going to happen has happened. I don't want to hear your excuses, I don't care what the permit needs. “NO” means “NO”. What part of that don’t you understand? Nibi (water) is sacred, what part of that don’t you understand? Manoomin is sacred, that is our life blood, that is us, that is why we are here. What the State of Minnesota and Canadian Corporation Enbridge have done to us is genocide. We’ve followed the process, the science is there, the evidence is there. Deny Enbridge any further allowance to destroy our mama aki (earth).”
Carolyn Goug’e, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa: “I am an Ojibwe elder, a mom, grandmother, Jingle dress dancer and a water protector. I have grown up on the Shores of the beautiful Lake Superior and have raised my family here, alongside all who call our beautiful area home. Our families sustain themselves by fishing and gathering medicines. I, amongst the many Anishaanabe Women, Men, and friends have taken a personal oath because of our love and for the teachings of our Anishannabe Elder, Grandma, and friend Josephine Mandamin baa, (Anishanaabekwe), The “Water Walker”. Auntie Josephine, she has since gone home with Creator, but we continue to carry on our responsibilities.
Our protocols are based on Ojibwe Ceremonial understandings of water. I (we) walk to honor the rivers, the lakes and the spirit of the water. In our walk we call attention to the sacred gift of water, the source of all life. Oil spills are of great concern to the Anishinaabe people. They have caused disasters to our water, fish, animals, our manoomin, and our vegetation. We do not want pipelines across our counties, communities, or our Mother the Earth. We, Anishinabe people, we speak for the water. She cannot speak, so we speak for her. We think about our next seven generations and how Line 5 would impact them. Our common denominator of life is water. We know this all from the teachings and oral inscriptions left by our ancestors. This is for perpetuity. I ask the Army Corps to consider this, to consider what we do for the water and how that can guide its decisions on Line 5. I ask the Army Corps to please do the right thing, Deny the permit.”
The Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International
www.wecaninternational.org - @WECAN_INTL
The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International is a 501(c)3 and solutions-based organization established to engage women worldwide in policy advocacy, on-the-ground projects, trainings, and movement building for global climate justice.